Our story begins with a group of Pilgrims seeking to escape the religious persecutions they experienced under the Church of England. Arriving in the years following the famous voyage of the Mayflower to the shores of Plymouth, Massachusetts, these Puritans sought to build “a city upon a hill,” wrote John Winthrop, the first governor of Massachusetts Bay. A “New English Israel” that would bring about Protestant reforms throughout the English Empire. The region was later renamed “New England.”
William Gifford, an English poet and essayist, received a report that “In the rebellion of the Colonies, a member of that state seriously proposed to Congress the putting down of the English language by law, and decreeing the universal adoption of Hebrew in its stead.” Some believe this was intended as a mockery of the mutinous colonists, but there is sufficient evidence to show that this was a very real and serious consideration.